James Mentis is one of the most popular and respected players in the history of the sport by his teammates and opponents.
We first saw him playing forward with the Frasca Top Guns playing along side his brother Bobby and Billy Taylor and what a line! Perhaps the best fourth line of all time as you had the incredible goal scorer in Bobby and slick centre, Taylor but it was the right winger that caught your eye. He was the smallest player on the team, but that speed, talent and heart he showed was something you would never forget.
We recall a penalty killing situation versus the Maple Precast Eagles, another top team in the late 80’s and James picked up the ball behind his own net and began to race up the floor into the Eagles zone where most would dump the ball in and change, but not him and he would continue killing the full two minutes by himself. Simply incredible and this would continue for years!
Along with his brother and Terry Griffith the Brampton Midnight Express formed in 1991 in the National Ball Hockey League and the Express were the sport’s most recognized and successful organization and the best team of all time.
Mentis would catch your eye at a young age, but it was his switch to defence that made him legendary in our sport. He understood the game better than most and then his skill took over.
Chicky’s accomplishments with the Express and Team Canada are unmatched with the number of championships. It is Mentis’s true and genuine passion for the game -- and for the fans of the game in particular – that has helped elevate him into a unique grouping of athletes in the sport.
To call Mentis one of the greatest may be an understatement. His many records and accomplishments are legendary. But the fact that he played at the World Championships in 2013 at Maple Leaf Gardens as a forty-nine year old youngster and that his name is synonymous with the sport of ball hockey might not be superseded by any other athlete ever in the sport.
He was a genuine competitor and true champion of the game who will one day be enshrined into the OBHA Hall of Fame